Ryan Nugent-Hopkins top pick for Oilers

In the moments leading up to last Friday’s NHL Entry Draft, it was still up in the air as to who the Edmonton Oilers would choose with their first overall pick.

Would they go with the consensus and select Red Deer Rebels standout Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or go another route instead selecting Swedish defenceman Adam Larsson or Memorial Cup star Jonathan Huberdeau?

Edmonton general manager Steve Tambellini ended months of speculation when he took the podium and announced that Nugent-Hopkins was the man they wanted in Oilers colours and the selection came as no surprise to his Western Hockey League head coach.

“No, I would’ve been shocked if he didn’t go first overall. I know he spent a lot of time with the Oilers and it just made sense for a lot of reasons, so no I wasn’t surprised,” said Jesse Wallin, head coach and vice president of hockey operations for the Rebels.

With the question of who the Oilers would take now out of the way, some are wondering if Nugent-Hopkins will be able to make the jump to the NHL right away or be better served by playing another season of junior.

“I think in a lot of ways, he’s ready. And to be honest, if he made that step to the next level, I think he could handle it,” said Wallin. “I think the bigger question though is whether or not it’s the right thing for him. Certainly, strength is a factor and it seems like all the talk right now is about his weight and while the weight is great, if he gets to 180 pounds, the bigger question is how is going to carry it, maintain it, and sustain it through a season and hold up at that level.

“The beauty of this kid is that you’re not getting the finished product right now. Sometimes that is the case, where you’re getting a guy who can step in right away, and sometimes he’s not going to get much better.”

Wallin points out that if Nugent-Hopkins, who was a late cut from Canada’s 2011 World Junior Hockey Championship squad were to return for another season of junior he would be a lock to make Team Canada with this year’s tournament being held in Edmonton and Calgary.

“Having played in the World Juniors myself, I know what that does for your confidence and what it does for your development,” said Wallin, who won gold with Canada in 1997.

“You come back from that experience to the Western League level and it just seems like the game has slowed down a bit. The game’s slowed down and your confidence has rocketed and he hasn’t had that experience yet. You look at Taylor Hall last season, he had played three full seasons of junior, being a late birthday, had won two Memorial Cups and been at one World Junior tournament and those are once in a life time experiences and I think, whether it’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or any other young player, that those a key points in a kids development. So I’d certainly like to see him back, for our sake, but I really do think it’s best for Ryan.”


Just Posted

Rebels lose to Medicine Hat Tigers, 4-1

Tigers break Rebels’ three-game winning streak

Red Deer’s newest outdoor ice facility opens to the public next week

The speed skating oval at Setters Place at Great Chief Park will be open Dec. 17th

Exhibition explores the rich history and culture of Métis people

The exhibition is on display from Dec. 15th to March 10th at the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery

2019 Hockey Alberta Provincial Championship host sites announced

A total of 39 Provincial Championships will be hosted across the province

40-year Big Brother match a gift to Lacombe man

Andy Pawlyk and his Little Brother Chris Selathamby honoured at BBBS Awards Night

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

New home for Calgary Flames estimated to cost up to $600 million

The city and the Flames are not yet talking on who will pay how much for a building to replace the Saddledome

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale

Thursday’s wave of bomb threats swept across communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border

Mike Duffy can’t sue Senate over suspension without pay, judge rules

Duffy’s lawsuit sought more than $7.8 million from the upper chamber

Language on Sikh extremism in report will be reviewed, Goodale says

A public-safety ministry document indicats terrorist threats to Canada included a section on Sikh extremism for the first time

Questions raised over retailers who shame shoplifters with photos

Alleged theft from a sex shop in Newfoundland led to posts on social media

Fashion Fridays: How to change your beauty routine

Kim XO, lets you in on her style secrets each Fashion Friday on the Black Press Media Network

Stettler man found guilty of illegally trafficking wildlife

Hunting license suspended for three years

Most Read